November 13, 2023

Landry’s 5 takeaways from Division Finals

Peter Power/

Hello, Montreal Alouettes. Remember this past off-season when you had no owner? When you lost a bunch of stars to free agency and had no hope of even being competitive? At all? Yeah, me neither.

Here are the Eastern and Western Finals takeaways:

» Defensive clinic leads Bombers to fourth consecutive GC appearance
» Dominant Defence: Als punch ticket to 110th Grey Cup
» Alouettes and Blue Bombers set for first-ever Grey Cup meeting



Marc-Antoine Dequoy’s 101-yard pick-six against the Argos came early in the game, but it’s hard not to think of it as absolutely the biggest play in the Eastern Final.

We’ll never know for sure but it’s not hard to imagine that the complexion of that game could have been altered greatly had the Argonauts completed their opening drive with a touchdown rather than surrendering a gobsmackingly huge momentum swing.

But maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. The Alouettes have made a habit of taking what they want on defence, never mind a team giving it to them.

Take Dequoy, for instance.

This is the second time he’s scraped along the line of scrimmage during a play, hiding amongst the big bodies, leaking out to spear a short pass from an unsuspecting quarterback, and, many yards later, scoring six for the Als.

Back in Week 12, he did the same thing, stepping in front of a Zach Collaros pass and shouting “surprise!” (I imagine) and hiking it back 57 yards for a major.

On Grey Cup Sunday, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers would be well served to be aware of the man in the weeds.


The Montreal offence gave up seven sacks (it seemed like more) against the Argos in the Eastern Final.

The Winnipeg defence scored nine sacks against BC in the Western Final.

Math is not, nor has it ever been, my strong suit, but it does not need to be in this case. This one is a simple equation.

Heading for the Grey Cup, the Alouettes need to find an answer to keeping Cody Fajardo’s pocket stable against the voracious Blue Bombers’ pass rush.


Winnipeg Head Coach Mike O’Shea was asked, post-game, about special teams gladiator Nick Hallett, who blocked a punt, recovered it, and took it in for a first half touchdown against BC.

O’Shea talked about Hallett’s intelligence and athleticism. Then, he paused. And broke into a big ol’ grin.

“I like him, he’s grimy,” said O’Shea. “He’s got some dirt to him.”

O’Shea has always enjoyed the muck-work of special teams, both as a player and as a coordinator. He was pretty “grimy” himself, coming up with 169 special teams tackles during his career (Hallett has 60 through four regular seasons) and, as a coordinator, once told me what he liked so much about specials. “The violence,” he said.

And he had that same ear-to ear grin on his face when he said it.

O’Shea reminded everyone that Hallett blocked a field goal attempt in last year’s Grey Cup game, summing up the ‘Grimy One’s’ penchant for playoff heroics this way:

“He manages to follow through and make plays for his teammates. And they love him for it.”



In a losing cause, BC quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. impressed with his tenacity and his toughness. His willingness to gut it out.

He had his knee banged up early on in the game, visibly limping, at times, so much that I did believe we were about to see back-up Dane Evans come into the game.

Adams’ abilities to play through the pain while continuing to be beaten up by that ferocious Winnipeg pass rush is something very impressive.

It was his final play, however, that really showed off his never-say-die competitive nature.

Down eleven points, and with thirty-some seconds to go, Adams launched a bomb that was picked by Winnipeg’s Evan Holm, who would have scored on the play had he not been stopped inside the BC five-yard line.

That tackle was made by Adams, who could easily have just limped to the BC sideline as Holm raced for the end zone. The game was over and he was injured, after all.

But he got back to make the play anyway.


It’s going to be a long, cold winter for Toronto quarterback Chad Kelly. After a very, very good regular season – one in which he quickly silenced doubters of his abilities to lead a team as its starting quarterback, poof. It vanishes.

Do you have those recurring dreams – stress dreams, I think they call them – where you’re at your job but you can’t for the life of you remember how to do it? Or even if you do remember, you just can’t muster the physical abilities to do it?

Chad Kelly lived that nightmare against the Montreal Alouettes.

Now, Kelly gets to sit in that discomfort for the entire off-season, bristling and eager for June to roll around so he can wash that taste from his mouth.

Here’s the kicker, though.

Even if Kelly blazes his guns during the  2024 regular season, he gets to hear all his critics and doubters say “yeah, but what will he do in the playoffs?”

In other words, it’s going to be more than a long winter. It’s going to be a long year for Chad Kelly.

AND FINALLY… We should talk more about Joseph Zema’s punting.

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